Stories from the Field

Closing Celebrations & Science Investigation Presentations for Olympic Alcoa Session Two

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Science Night Alcoa

Last Thursday evening, Scholars had the opportunity to showcase their environmental curiosity, insight and knowledge as part of the program’s closing celebrations. Held in the NatureBridge Storm King Hall Classroom, Scholars took turns sharing the results of their backcountry findings in a short presentation. The Science Night was the culmination of two weeks of research, design and implementation of Scholars’ science investigations. 

The Scholars presented their science projects in four research groups. Groups designed projects that examined if elevation affects the dissolved oxygen found in water, questioned if elevation affected the pH of water, investigated the relationship between tree species and the pH of the surrounding soil and considered the relationship between water pH and macroinvertebrate type. Scholars acknowledged the challenges of conducting field science in a wilderness setting, questioned the impact that climate change would have (and has already had) on their findings and described the additional research they would like to do on their topics.

The Science Night had an especially impressive audience on Thursday, with attendees strongly representing the realms of field science and wilderness management. In attendance was new NatureBridge board member and wildlife biologist for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe Kim Sager-Fradkin; National Park Service coastal ecologist/limnologist Steve Fradkin; National Park Service Wilderness Youth Coordinator Nicole Kennedy; former NatureBridge Board Member Marie Marrs and freshwater ecologist Caroline Walls. The night was also attended virtually by NatureBridge Board Member and geologist for Geosyntec Consultants Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger. We were fortunate to be joined by these audience members, as they represent different pathways in environmental science and field work careers. Scholars made the most of this opportunity, taking the time to talk with the scientists about their professional journeys.

On top of the new experiences and all that the Scholars were learning in the backcountry, it was quite impressive to witness the science research and investigating they had accomplished while out on the trail. For many Scholars, this trip was the first time hiking, backpacking or sleeping under the stars. Yet they still focused on finding methods for mitigating the impacts of climate change, better understanding the region’s unique biodiversity and becoming environmental leaders. 

At the close of the presentations, the Scholars gathered one final time to celebrate and reflect through a final campfire along the shores of Lake Crescent.

Upon their return home, Scholars will share their experiences with their communities and hometowns through post-trip projects—ranging from blogs and essays, to presentations and videos. You can explore the Olympic journey of these Alcoa Scholars through all of our Facebook photo albums!

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